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We give our sincere appreciation to the Gila River Indian Community and its members for their continuing generous support of our American Legion Post. Since our charter in 1972 , our American Legion Post has been welcoming VETERANS from all branches of our Armed Forces. Today, we continue to welcome all military personnel serving our country. Joining our Post enables you to continue serving your God, Country and Community Our mission is to implement the goals, aspirations, dreams, peace and blessings for our country, friends and families embodied in our preamble below.
Due to Covid-19, we've decided to cancel this year's event. We apologize for the inconvenience; no virtual event will be held. We take the safety of our community, members, and guests very seriously. Thank you for your understanding. Hope to see you at next year's event!
Ira Hamilton Hayes
Born: January 12, 1923, Sacaton, Arizona
Died: January 24, 1955 Bapchule, Arizona
Buried in Arlington National Cemetery
At a mid-winter conference held in Holbrook, Arizona in late 1972, National Commander Joe L. Mathews of Texas presented a Post Charter for the new "Ira H. Hayes" Post 84 to the newly elected Post Commander, David Johnson, and Jay Morago, the newly elected Adjutant.
It is with sadness to report that In May of 2008 our first Adjutant and continuous member, Jay Morago, passed away at age 90 at the U.S. Veterans Administration Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Jay was an original member of the famed "Bushmasters" 158th Infantry jungle fighting unit which saw action in several Pacific island campaigns during WWII. After the war, Jay became the Governor of the Gila River Indian Community serving from 1954 through 1960. Jay was honored with formal services in the Governance Center Council Chambers with continuous honor guard from the Ira H. Hayes Post 84 of Sacaton and Haskell Osife Post 51 of Blackwater. It was an honor to all of us that our warrior comrade was laid to rest wearing his American Legion Color Guard uniform.
Our post's namesake was born in Sacaton and grew up the son of a poor farming family on the Pima Indian Reservation in Bapchule, Arizona. The Pima Tribe has always answered the call of our country in time of need and in WWII, Ira joined the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, the Sacaton High School in 1943 had to cancel graduation as every male in the graduating class enlisted.
On February 23rd, 1945 a picture was taken that changed Ira's life forever. During the WWII battle on the tiny island of Iwo Jima, an American Flag was raised on a high point of Mount Suribachi. Ira went to help his comrades raise the flag and became a part of of one of the most famous photographs in history. This photograph of six men raising the flag went on to become a symbol for rallying the American public towards victory. Three of six men in the photograph died shortly after the photograph was taken. During the battle, Ira was one of 5 survivors of his 45 man platoon and was one of the 27 escaping death or injury of his 250 man company. Unfortunately this instant notoriety resulted in Ira Hayes being brought back to the United States to be a part of the 7th War Bond Tour to raise money for the war. Ira did not think of himself as a hero as he was alive and believed that the real heroes where those brave comrades that gave their lives in battle. Ira discovered that his fame was rewarded not with job offers but with fancy dinners and drinks. Ira finally returned to the reservation but brought with him new problems brought on by this unwanted fame. Years earlier the U.S. Government had cut off the major water supply to the Pima Indian Reservation which caused extreme hardship for the people who had relied on farming as their source of making a living. There was little opportunity for a farming family without water, yet this was Ira's home. Ira tried to avoid the visitors who came to see "the Indian who raised the flag". During patriotic veteran's and military ceremonies, Ira would sit in his car watching from across the road to avoid unwanted attention. In 1954, Ira Hayes attended the ceremony in Washington D.C. for the dedication of the "Iwo Jima Memorial", a bronze cast replica of the raising of the American Flag on Mount Suribachi. Tragically, Ira Hayes died 10 weeks after this ceremony.
On January 29th, 2009 one of our long time post members, Masaji Inoshita, was honored as the recipient of the 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Servant Leadership Award at the 24th Annual Arizona State University Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration ceremony.
The following is from the event brochure:
Masaji Inoshita was 22 and farming with his father in California when FBI agents knocked on the door and handcuffed his father to take him to an internment camp. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed, and the government was afraid Japanese-Americans would collaborate with the enemy. Inoshita and his parents and eight siblings spent four years at the Gila River Relocation Camp south of Phoenix. But instead of being bitter, he has spent his adult life as a historian and civil rights advocate, teaching about the need for diversity of races and religions in the workplace, schools and society. You will see Mas at many of our veteran's events in the community and we hope that you will all say hello to him and thank him for his lifetime of service. It is with a heavy heart, that we inform you of Mr. Masaji Inoshita's Passing in July 2015. His family had to give up their 55-acre farm and all their animals and equipment. Neighbors couldn’t speak to them. But Inoshita enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Army Intelligence as a translator in Burma, India and China. After World War II ended, he returned to Arizona to farm, getting married and raising three children. He became active in the Japanese American Citizens League and the Arizona Buddhist Temple Board, and eventually he began speaking at local schools, churches, and civic groups about his experiences in the internment camp. Since then Inoshita has spoken before many national groups and is a frequent guest lecturer for the Arizona Historical Society and the universities. He has won awards for workshops on race relations. His audiences are fascinated by his stories, but his main lesson is one of love and respect for fellow man.
Now 89, Inoshita has won many awards, including the U.S. Army Presidential Merit Citation and the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. On the local level, he was named outstanding Washington School District volunteer for serving as a full-time volunteer librarian for six years. ASU is proud to honor him as the 2009 MLK Servant-Leadership Award winner. Besides being a long time member of our post, “Mas”, as he is known to friends strives to insure the care of the veteran’s memorial on the former Japanese relocation center within the Gila River Indian Community. Over the years, the memorial monument has been damaged and vandalized with graffiti and Mas along with local community members and school volunteers performs yearly cleanups and painting at the site.
Mas Inoshita is posthumously honored with a centennial celebration and memorial dedication for all Nisei soldiers who served during WWII.
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